Of his not so blind holdings in Whitechapel Ltd, Key says:
“All this means that I have no beneficial interest in Whitechapel Ltd, which is central to Labour’s claims of a conflict of interest.”
This is weasel speak by the PM. We have heard such things before from the Deputy PM, when Bill English was trying to squirm his way clear of his accommodation rort:
“I didn’t have a pecuniary interest in the trust, I never have had, I don’t now and I don’t have any other interests in it.”
“Pecuniary interest” is typically taken to include direct, indirect or shared profit, to the individual or to immediate family sharing the same household. English tried to pull a swiftie by using the term to mean “doesn’t have to be listed in the MP’s Register of Pecuniary Interests”. The criteria for listing a trust depends on a term with a much narrower definition. A trust only needs to be listed if the member has a “beneficial interest”: “an enforceable, proprietary interest in the trust property. Examples of a proprietary interest include ownership and a right to possession or occupation”. Thats a definition so narrow that you can drive a truck round it, which is what English was trying to do.
Well, Bill got caught. The Auditor General found for a common sense reading of “pecuniary interest” and that Bill did have an interest in the trust (see my post here, strangely the AG’s report has disappeared from its parent directory – why? – but Google shows the crucial text of the ruling widely reported).
Looks to me like Key is trying the same trick with “beneficial interest”, using narrow legalese to try and sell a broader lie. Key’s assets are supposed to be blind to him. Before the 3 News report he claimed that they were blind. Now he is claiming something much much narrower. Why?
Big picture, it’s starting to look like the Nats systematically abuse trusts. English and the Endeavour Trust to rort the accommodation allowance. Key and Aldgate / Whitechapel with distinctly dodgy looking connections to decisions on alcohol law. And the whole National Party with Waitemata and Ruahine trusts to anonymise donations and subvert the purpose of the 2005 electoral law. It stinks. It stinks from top to bottom. The whole damn stables needs a good clean out. Start by referring Key’s case to the Auditor General.